A growing number of patients feel they can trust and rely on nursing staff in outpatient departments, according to the latest national survey.
The Care Quality Commission survey of outpatients treated at 163 hospital trusts in England last year also revealed a small but significant improvement in the crucial area of dignity and respect.
The CQC said 89% of patients said they felt they had been treated with dignity and respect “all of the time” while in outpatient departments, up from 87% in 2009 when the last survey was done.
However, there was room for improvement with 10% reporting they were only treated with dignity and respect “some of the time” and 4% saying they were not treated with dignity and respect at all.
The survey – based on the views of more than 72,000 who attended outpatient departments in April or May 2011 – found 62% were seen by a nurse during some or all of their appointment.
Of those seen by a nurse or healthcare worker other than a doctor, 83% said they “definitely” had trust and confidence in that person – up from 81% in 2009.
Meanwhile 16% felt they could trust nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers and others “to some extent”, while just 2% said they did not trust or have any confidence in these members of staff.
There were less positive results regarding interaction with patients, with 7% reporting “few or none of the staff introduced themselves”. In addition 4% of outpatients said doctors and nurses talked in front of them as if they were not there – no change from 2009.
The survey revealed a drop in performance when it came to explaining treatment, tests and medication. More than a third of patients said they were unsure about the results of tests with just 62% reporting staff had explained results in a way they could “definitely” understand.
There was also a drop in the proportion who felt staff “definitely” explained what would happen during their treatment from 80% in 2009 to 77% in 2011, while the proportion who felt staff had “definitely” explained the risks and benefits before treatment fell from 72% to 69%.
In addition 36% said they had not been told about possible side effects from medication, down from 35% in 2009. Just 43% said they were completely sure about what side effects to look out for.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “More still needs to be done to ensure that outpatients know what to expect, have tests and treatments explained to them clearly and are properly informed about the potential side effects of any medicines they are prescribed.”